A CRIMINAL case against two Mildura men accused of holding another man against his will has been discharged after prosecution witnesses went interstate for a wedding and failed to appear in court.
Brothers Shaun and Leon Morgan had been in custody since their arrest in June last year.
An “irate” magistrate Nunzio La Rosa yesterday refused prosecutors’ adjournment application after being told the alleged victim and his father, who were required to give evidence in the Morgans’ committal hearing, were in Ade-laide.
A police informant told Mildura Magistrates’ Court a relative of the victim had hastily arranged a wedding about a month ago, which the witnesses attended on Thursday night.
“I’ve not done this in 15 and a half years that I’ve been on the bench,” Mr La Rosa said, as he discharged the case. “Frankly, there has been a failure in the discharge of obligations to this court.”
The court had previously heard Shaun, aged 34 at the time, and Leon, then aged 32, stopped the 33-year-old victim from leaving Shaun’s home after the victim went there to retrieve his wallet and phone.
The victim had then been allegedly spat on and whipped with a gold necklace, before the Morgans forced him into his own car and threatened him with a screwdriver.
He was then said to have been dumped at his own home before the accused drove off in his car.
Mr La Rosa said the Morgans were entitled to the presumption of innocence and told their respective barristers and the prosecution that the Crown case was “not the strongest”.
Shaun Morgan faced charges including false imprisonment, while Leon was charged with the more serious offence of kidnapping.
Shaun’s barrister Neil Howard told the court public housing allocated for the Morgan brothers to live in had been handed to other tenants since they were remanded in custody.
Mr Howard said Shaun now had no fixed address to go to and was unlikely to be successful in applying for bail, if the committal hearing was put off for another month.
The court heard Leon Morgan had a proposed bail address in Melbourne’s outer east.
Had Mr La Rosa granted prosecutors’ request for a delay, the committal hearing would not have been able to go ahead until April 6 at the earliest.
Yesterday was the second attempt at holding a committal hearing, after the Morgans’ most recent appearance in early December was adjourned.
Mr La Rosa told the parties to seek an agreement on costs.
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